If you’ve paid any attention to the automotive news, it may seem that there are a number of recalls happening all the time. Some of these impact the vehicle you own and others don’t. When you get a recall notice, you have to take your car into the dealer and let them handle whatever repair is needed. Other than the time out of your day there’s no cost to you, but what sets the recall process in motion and what exactly is a recall? We take a closer look.
What Exactly is a Recall?
A recall happens when faulty parts or components constitute a safety-related defect in a certain model or several models. The automaker or NHTSA identify these issues through a number of methods but rely heavily on feedback from car owners and subsequent investigations. Recalls happen when a model’s parts of components don’t comply with a federal safety standard. This doesn't necessarily mean that any part on a car that commonly fails will cause a recall to happen, but if it constitutes a safety concern, you'll probably be contacted by the manufacturer.
Once a car is deemed unsafe, the automaker must file a public report. In the report, the company must detail the events that led up to the need for a recall, its remedy to the situation, and a schedule for the recall to be completed. From there, the automaker alerts owners to the problem usually through a letter and offers a free repair. A recall simply means that the faulty equipment on the vehicle will be replaced. It does not mean that all of the car’s issues, should it have any, will be fixed. The NHTSA actively monitors all recalls ensuring that consumers are notified of the recall and taken care of by the automaker.
Are Cars with Recalls Unsafe?
If they’ve had the recall performed, they’re perfectly safe. The point of the recalls is to replace the faulty parts with high-quality, safe ones. If the car you’re driving needs to have recall service done, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in immediate danger. Recalls account for equipment that could fail, this doesn’t mean your car is guaranteed to have parts fail, which would render it unsafe to drive.
If you find out your car was recalled, it’s best to get it to the proper service center soon to have the recall performed in a timely manner. Don’t wait. While you’re probably not in immediate danger, the recall was called for a reason. When recalls occur, they end up costing the automaker a lot of money. This means no automaker is going to perform a recall unless it’s absolutely necessary. While recalls are fairly common today, they weren't always, and you need to take them seriously.
Don't risk your safety by continuing to drive a car that was recalled. If your car is damaged as a result of you not taking advantage of a recall, the automaker is not required to reimburse your for those damages. However, if you do experience any damages, keep records of the damage and contact the automaker. Some will reimburse you for the costs.
What Do I Do If My Car Is Recalled?
The first thing to do is call the dealership where you bought the car. Depending on where you purchased your vehicle, you should be able to take the car to the dealer for the service. If your dealer informs you that you should go somewhere else, consider call the manufacturer’s phone number listed in the recall letter. They will be able to tell you which facility closest to you will perform the recall free of charge.
If you have any other issues, you should reach out to the NHTSA and explain the situation. Do not take your car to a shop that will charge you for the service. A recall should not cost you money. If for some reason you’re experiencing issues with your recall, the NHTSA should be able to advise you on how best to proceed.